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Am J Psychiatry. 1995 Mar;152(3):419-23.

Low serum cholesterol level and attempted suicide.

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Payne Whitney Clinic, New York Hospital.



Several studies suggest that a low cholesterol concentration is associated with a greater than normal risk of mortality from suicide. The authors sought to determine whether a low cholesterol level is associated with a history of serious suicide attempts among psychiatric inpatients.


Lifetime history of attempted suicide of 650 patients, aged 18-59 years, consecutively admitted to a psychiatric hospital was assessed by semistructured interview. The seriousness of an attempt was rated on the basis of the resulting medical injury. Serum cholesterol levels, obtained from the admission biochemical profiles, were divided into quartiles.


Compared to men with low cholesterol levels (defined as less than or equal to the 25th percentile), men with cholesterol levels above the 25th percentile were less likely to have ever made a serious suicide attempt when age, weight, race, socioeconomic status, alcohol use, and depression were controlled for. There was no association between cholesterol level and attempted suicide in women.


Male psychiatric patients with low cholesterol levels were twice as likely to have ever made a medically serious suicide attempt than men with cholesterol levels above the 25th percentile. Low cholesterol concentration should be further investigated as a potential biological marker of suicide risk.

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